(Ed. Note: For the full Deering-Westbrook and Waynflete-Old Orchard Beach game stories, please visit theforecaster.net)
The Deering baseball dynasty has come to an end.
Saturday afternoon at Hadlock Field, the top-ranked Rams dug a 7-1 hole and almost rallied all the way back before leaving the tying run at third in a 7-6 Western Class A semifinal round loss to No. 4 Westbrook.
Deering had eliminated No. 8 Cheverus, 4-1, the day before in the quarterfinals.
In Western C, Waynflete’s first foray into the playoffs in four years ended with a 5-2 loss to Old Orchard Beach in the preliminary round last Tuesday.
Down goes Deering
Deering’s baseball dominance has been well chronicled. The Rams won three straight Class A championships between 1999-2001, back-to-back crowns in 2003 and 2004, then won each of the past three, all while producing superb talent that has gone on to populate some of the finest college rosters in the country and, on a few occasions, drafted by big league clubs.
After last year’s title, however, Deering was hit hard by graduation and was expected to come back to the pack. Sure enough, the Rams struggled early, losing in the opener at Cheverus, 5-4, snapping their 50-game win streak. Losses to Portland, Westbrook and Bonny Eagle followed, but eight wins in its final 10 games gave Deering a 12-4 mark and the top seed in the region.
After rain postponed their quarterfinal by a day, the Rams ended No. 8 Cheverus’ season, 4-1. Senior Jake Nichols and junior Sam Balzano combined to hold the Stags to two hits, Deering scored twice in the first and twice in the fifth and went on to the victory. Balzano doubled and tripled and Nichols and junior Nick Colucci added doubles.
Cheverus, which started the year 6-0 before stumbling and barely qualifying, ended up 9-8.
The Rams hoped to avenge their 9-6 loss at Westbrook from May 20 when the teams met again Saturday, but the Blue Blazes scored once in the first, twice in the second and four times in the third to build a 7-1 lead.
Deering, showing its championship heart, rallied with a run in the third, two in the fifth, then added two more in the seventh and got the tying run to third base, but the Rams couldn’t get one more clutch hit and saw their season end at 13-5.
“That was a heck of a ballgame,” said Deering coach Mike Coutts. “I’m proud of this team. Last year we won states and this year we didn’t, but we battled right down to the end. We got every ounce out of these kids they had. A lot of people didn’t think we’d go .500, so to make it back here to this game and have the tying run on third shows what these kids are all about.”
Nichols, Travis Wade and Nick DiBiase all had multiple hits in the loss.
The Rams should be right back at the top in 2011.
Waynflete made great strides in 2010, going 6-7 to earn the ninth and final playoff spot in Western C. The Flyers went 1-2 in the regular season against Old Orchard Beach and met the Seagulls for the first time in the playoffs in the preliminary round at The Ballpark.
Waynflete fell behind 2-0 after one inning, but drew even in the second on Sam Murphy’s sacrifice fly and Noah Aronson’s double. The game was still deadlocked in the bottom of the fifth, when it was interrupted for 23 minutes by rain. When it resumed. the Seagulls took the lead. They added two more runs in the sixth and held off the Flyers to end Waynflete’s season at 6-8 with the 5-2 decision.
“There’s a lot more to be happy about than to be upset about, but it does hurt to know we were that close to making the next round,” said Flyers coach Steve Kautz. “Timing is everything. When it was 2-2, we missed two or three signals, where we were unable to execute. A squeeze play or a double steal. That could have put the pressure on their defense. If we had a 3-2 lead, I would have liked our chances.”
Waynflete returns many key players in 2011, when it will be viewed as a legitimate contender from start to finish.
“We need to figure out who’s going to replace some key positions,” Kautz said. “Mostly, we need to continue the work ethic that the kids bought into this year and maintain the fun. That’s a key ingredient of our program. Keeping that balance. We have some good incoming freshmen. Next year’s leaders need to be the kind of leaders that this year’s seniors were. I expect that they will be.”
Eric Carson contributed to this story
Sports Editor Michael Hoffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Deering senior Travis Wade slides safely into third base during Saturday’s showdown against Westbrook. The Rams fell a run short, 7-6.
Deering’s junior second baseman Nick Colucci tags out a Westbrook runner at second base Saturday. The Rams season ended without a state title for the first time since 2006.